Is my package lost at sea?
January 12, 2011 5:34 PM   Subscribe

I ordered something from an Etsy seller located in London on November 15th, and I still haven't received it. Seller claims she shipped it in November and blames the crazy snow in London on the delay. So, my brothers and sisters on the other side of the pond, is it true? Have you had the blizzard of the century, or what?

I've asked the seller several times WHEN she actually sent it, but she never answers that specific question. Always says "sorry for the delay! we've had crazy snow and the post is backed up!". I don't know if I should believe her! Help me out here. I want to give this seller the benefit of the doubt... Thanks!
posted by two lights above the sea to Shopping (39 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have a tracking number? Can you track where the package is? It very well could be backed up, but it might not be. If they are unwilling, or unable, to give you this information, then I would see if etsy would get involved. I'm not sure how etsy works, but they have to take some responsibility for their users.

Also, if you paid by credit card, you could always look into filing for a chargeback.

I'd make sure they package where they say it is before doing any of this.
posted by TheBones at 5:38 PM on January 12, 2011

Well, the post is backed up, that much is true. Someone sent me a package from England around December 14th and I didn't get it until about the 30th. I would be very skeptical that something sent in November wouldn't have arrived by now though. Does she have any feedback on Etsy that would indicate any problems?
posted by triggerfinger at 5:41 PM on January 12, 2011

Click on the "view invoice" link next to the item in Your Purchases, and there's a place where it will say when the seller marked the item as shipped. Of course, this doesn't guarantee she's telling the truth ...
posted by Quietgal at 5:41 PM on January 12, 2011

I ordered something online at a time when my parents had trouble getting out of our house. It arrived with a two day delay. You appear to be experiencing what I would call a "piss take".
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:45 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

*their house.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:45 PM on January 12, 2011

Best answer: I spent a week in London in mid-December: it really wasn't too bad most of the time. I also got parcels in the UK post -- admittedly, not from London, but from areas worse hit by snow -- in a more or less standard few days. A few of my family's Christmas presents didn't make it on time because of postal delays, but they arrived before New Year.

For the transatlantic post I generally assume 10 days either way, based on many years' experience, but don't get antsy until into the second week. Around Christmas, I extend that to three weeks. Six weeks is really not credible.

Now, "the post is backed up" could really mean "getting to the Post Office to sort out international postage has been trickier", which is understandable. But that's not what she's saying, and if she's passing the buck to the Royal Mail and/or USPS, then it's time to start asking what she's done to track down a potentially lost parcel.
posted by holgate at 5:47 PM on January 12, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, I'm pretty much ready to take whatever action necessary, but I just wanted to put this out there just in case she's a little slow... in the head. For example, here's my last communication asking for information. I sent this to her on December 22nd:

"Hey there, I still haven't received this order. Coincidentally, I ordered something from another seller from India at the beginning of December, and I've had that item for over a week now. Could you please tell me how you shipped it? Did you use Royal Mail? Do you have any shipping information? I'm growing concerned. Thanks!"

And she responded with:

"hiya Liz

I'm so sorry for the slow reply, the snow here has caused huge problems (uuurggh I wont bore you with the details though!! There is steam coming from my finger tips the amount of emails I have had to send the last few days about problems etc!!)

Anyway, I just wanted to check in, has it arrived yet?

Let me know!

Thanks a million and hope 2011 has been rockin for you so far!!

Kindest regards

Bethan :)"

Total avoidance of the question. Arg. My invoice says she marked it as shipped on November 19th. She had ONE negative review when I ordered, and as of 1/02, there's a second saying that it's been a month with no package.
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:47 PM on January 12, 2011

It sounds like you've been giving her the benefit of the doubt for a solid 6 weeks.

If you want to be polite and give her one more chance to make good on your purchase, send one more strongly worded email along these lines: "Please send me another widget cozy immediately. If both show up, I will return the second one at my cost. I must receive my purchase by [date 10 business days in the future], or I will request a charge back from my credit card company. I will not accept any additional delays."

Personally, if it were me I'd simply reverse the charges at this point, or if that weren't possible -- you are fast coming up against a possible 60 day limit -- write it off as a loss and move on. You are relying on a person who is thousands of miles away to keep their word, and you have no way of enforcing their word apart from withholding or reversing payment. They have failed to keep their end of this agreement; you should feel free, IMHO, to recoup what you can.
posted by mosk at 5:49 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, there was crazy snow in London (well, normal snow for some parts of the world but crazy for London, so had a pretty serious impact on the post / airlines etc).

Having said that, it wasn't crazy snow for two months, so it sounds like your delivery has got lost somewhere - there's no reason that it wouldn't have arrived by now, as London is back to typical winter weather - grey, cold and rainy (which doesn't stop the post!).

I wouldn't automatically blame the seller though, unless there's other feedback on her site that would suggest that she's unreliable. For the first time ever, I've had non-deliveries of Amazon (UK) items from previously reliable sellers, from orders in early December (although all my UK Christmas Etsy items arrived just fine, if a little later than hoped).

I'd follow whatever the Etsy procedure is for non-delivery of an ordered item.

Good luck!
posted by finding.perdita at 5:50 PM on January 12, 2011

Response by poster: The problem is, the shop looked so beautiful, and the item I ordered is actually for my wedding. And I really love it! It's pretty much perfect for what I wanted! I really just want this item! Arg. Thanks so far, folks. I think I'm going to do what mosk suggests for now.
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:52 PM on January 12, 2011

I fear your seller is telling porkies.* The snow and seasonal postal delays didn't hit till a month after your order. Small Packet Airmail London to PA usually takes 8-10 days.
* pork pies > lies.
posted by Dr.Pill at 5:53 PM on January 12, 2011

A friend of mine (who I trust) posted me something from London the week before Christmas, and it hasn't arrived yet. But I am in Australia, and you ordered in NOVEMBER. I would assume something has gone wrong.
posted by lollusc at 5:55 PM on January 12, 2011

I've had many excellent transactions on etsy, but got scammed once - seller never sent the item and disappeared from etsy, and unfortunately I waited too long (over 45 days) to get a refund from paypal. Don't wait too long to seek a refund.
posted by analog at 5:57 PM on January 12, 2011

Incidentally I also sold a car on eBay over Christmas. The winner of the auction kept on promising to come and see me and pay, but after three no-shows I decided that the fool was being an ass. I sold it to someone else. I'm telling you this cause the fool selling you your item is being an ass. Drop the politeness, you've parted with cold hard cashish. You don't owe them anything, they owe you. The "mail crisis" on account of the snow was nothing but a Sky News fabrication. "Um, err, we, err, don't have any other news so erm, we're going to go live now to the same guy we spoke to ten minutes ago who is standing in the centre of Slough..."
posted by dougrayrankin at 6:00 PM on January 12, 2011

I've had recent problems with a delivery from the UK (it was a book that I'd ordered through Amazon Marketplace). I just looked it up and I placed the order on November 26th and did not receive until right around Christmas.

I first got a mass email message from the vendor around December 20th that they were informed by the postal service (not sure if UK or US) that there had been problems with some of their shipments and some may have been lost. When I sent a reply stating that I had not received my order I got another message from them that I have quoted from below:

We hope by now that you have received your book. As you may be aware some of our books are fulfilled from our global operation. Due to recently imposed changes introduced by The Department of Homeland Security delays of up to 2 weeks are currently being experienced by some customers. We thank you for your patience and please be assured we are doing all we can to get your order to you.

As I say, I did eventually get the book, shortly after their first message so I don't think it was a scam, although I had not read anything in the news about changes in Homeland Security that affected international mail service. If it is indeed true, that, perhaps in concert with the snow, could partially explain the delay, but I'd keep up on the seller about it. I imagine etsy/paypal would offer you some recourse for a refund if you don't get any satisfaction from the seller.
posted by kaybdc at 6:03 PM on January 12, 2011

Regarding etsy invoices and marked shipped - I'd say about 50% of sellers use it, and probably significantly less. More of them either email or convo me directly to tell me an item is on its way. So, I wouldn't use that as an indicator (though you mention she marked it shipped in Nov so apparently she is one of those that does use it)

I would base how much flexibility you're willing to give her primarily on how established a seller she is on etsy. Does she have less than 30 sales? Less than 10? If she is a well established seller with few negative feedback on etsy, I would assume she is telling the truth, and your package will arrive or she will find some way to compensate you if it does not.

Either way, it is time to be firmer with her about receiving the package. This time when you contact her ask again for a tracking number, and if she doesn't have it ask her to scan or photograph the shipping receipt and send it to you. You can make up some garbage about using the scan to contact your local post office to help them track the package down. Remind her how important it is to you to get your whirligig and play the wedding card - tell her how excited you were to wear it at your wedding, and how you'd even be happy to send her photos.

And then lay down the law: tell her you need either a tracking number, a scan of the receipt, or a full refund by the end of the week.

Regarding refunds and etsy: etsy will not do anything for you. Speaking from personal experience, they will send messages to the seller for you, and possibly (possibly!) suspend their account, but they have no financial leverage and cannot get you your refund. You can, however, immediately file a case with paypal (hopefully you're still within the window, you should check on that tonight) indicating non-receipt of the item, and paypal is quite good (in my experience) about getting your money back.

Also: if you don't hear back from her soon, go ahead and file the case with paypal. This indicates to the seller that you are quite serious about this and that she needs to get her act together and either get you the item or get you a refund.
posted by arnicae at 6:22 PM on January 12, 2011

I'm in PA and I ordered a book through ABE from a seller in London who had good feedback. He claims he mailed it via Airmail (I paid $13 for expedited shipping) on December 16 and I still have not received it. He also blames the snow and says their post office is saying all airmail will take at least one month to arrive to the US. This sounds incredible to me so I went back to ABE and requested a refund. The seller emailed me yesterday saying he was sending me a check for the cost of the book, my shipping and a little extra to cover the exchange rate. I'll believe it when I see it, but if he does send a refund and the book shows up as well, I will return the refunded money.
posted by FormerMermaid at 6:39 PM on January 12, 2011

Snow was bad, but not for that long - certainly not in London.

My Amazon orders were taking 10-15 days, as opposed to 2-3 which is standard. But I agree that your order should have arrived by now, and I agree with whoever said to ask her to send another one.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2011

I was actually looking at [redacted] from England earlier today. Apparently, they're experiencing extreme delays due to the fact that the TSA is now requiring that that no posted items be sent on passenger flights. So, instead of everything coming over on whatever the soonest transport is, it all must go through on specific airmail flights.

So, maybe you don't owe her any more time. But, there's a good chance she also isn't scamming you.
posted by Netzapper at 7:19 PM on January 12, 2011

I've ordered probably five things off of eBay from the UK since december, and they've all arrived in 2 weeks or less.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:40 PM on January 12, 2011

I've been expecting (in CA) some mail from the UK since mid-December, and it still hasn't arrived. It was Christmas cards from a relative, which is probably about as trustworthy as sending stuff gets. Conversely, I've received things sent after those cards were sent, so...I really have no idea what's going on, but there's some anecdata for you!
posted by djgh at 7:43 PM on January 12, 2011

Response by poster: It's definitely too late for a paypal dispute.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:45 PM on January 12, 2011

It might be held up in customs (or even, for some inexplicable reason, confiscated). They can be terrible about letting weeks go by before notification.

She should be given one more chance tracking number; seller sounds like an airhead, but that doesn't necessarily mean this person's a flake or pulling a scam.
posted by lesli212 at 8:07 PM on January 12, 2011

er, one more chance to provide a tracking number
posted by lesli212 at 8:07 PM on January 12, 2011

Another data point: I ordered something on etsy from the UK. Seller claims to have shipped December 8th. It arrived in Chicago yesterday (January 11th).
posted by nightwood at 9:19 PM on January 12, 2011

Just another data point. I ordered something from ebay from the UK that was posted (per the postmark) on November 22nd that I did not receive until December 30th. Neither the seller nor I could actually believe it when it arrived.
posted by ilikecookies at 9:37 PM on January 12, 2011

My mum sent a Christmas card from southern France, postmarked December 12th. It arrived here in California 2 days ago. So postal delays due to Christmas mail backlog and terrible weather, yes quite likely. However, the tone of her emails (pretending not to understand your clearly stated question), makes me very suspicious.
posted by Joh at 10:24 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, there was a great fire in 1666, but that area of London has long since been rebuilt. There's no way it could have delayed your package this long.

When you ask a question she responds as if she did not understand it. She has provided no proof of postage. I tell you what, why don't you hang on a bit longer, until it's too late for an Etsy dispute? That would probably meet her needs.

Or you could just go straight to your credit card company, get a chargeback, and leave negative feedback on Etsy for her.

I understand that it's for your wedding and you really want it, but that doesn't mean she has it to give. IME people who string you along for any reason never have anything to offer, no matter how credible they may appear.
posted by tel3path at 11:50 PM on January 12, 2011

The post was a nightmare over Christmas, I post stuff on a regular basis and I've had stuff go missing and experienced a 3 week delay on parcels since November.
posted by fire&wings at 1:23 AM on January 13, 2011

Many of the post depots got very backed up during the bad weather. It's possible that in this post chaos, the post company lost the mail.

Somebody I ordered from asked me if I would mind if they didn't ship until the weather cleared, because their courier was getting backed up and they didn't want to risk anything getting lost.
posted by emilyw at 1:52 AM on January 13, 2011

Another datapoint, I sent off a Christmas package to my folks in the US mid-Decemberish, and it hasn't arrived yet. But again, December isn't November.

Could she have sent it (accidentally?) by surface mail? Could it be held up in customs? There's half a dozen things that could go wrong, and sometimes things just get lost in the mail. I wouldn't assume the worst just yet, especially if the seller has received good feedback in the past. I would wait another week or two and then ask for a replacement or refund.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:52 AM on January 13, 2011

Reply back to her email. Ask for the Royal Mail proof of postage from when she sent the package. If she sent it by International Signed For, ask for the tracking number. If she can't supply one of these two things, demand a refund.
posted by turkeyphant at 3:39 AM on January 13, 2011

Yet another datapoint -- I ordered some pet meds Thanksgiving weekend that shipped from England (I don't recall exactly where). I received them the first week of January. In contrast, my previous order arrived in 2 - 2.5 weeks.
posted by bluesapphires at 5:50 AM on January 13, 2011

Backing up bluesapphires: I ordered something from England on Nov. 29, and it arrived in New York City last week.
posted by troywestfield at 7:14 AM on January 13, 2011

I'm in central London and live in west, and I've ordered things from the States and had them arrive, as well as some internal post (bar a courier delivery that was signed for by a stranger and disappeared...). The snow slowed down the post and getting much at all done for a while (and we had about six bank holidays between Christmas and New Year) but things seem back to normal low.
posted by mippy at 7:50 AM on January 13, 2011

I mailed a package from London to Michigan on 15 December, through regular old Royal Mail. It arrived in Michigan on 30 or 31 January. There was really bad snow* in primarily South London around the 1-3 December and then more minor snow following in the weeks following that did cause some delays in post. I think you should have gotten your package by now if the seller shipped when she said she did, though. You need the shipping details.

*note: "really bad snow" means "really bad snow for Londoners," which could mean like 3 inches and everyone panics and public transport shuts down and people can't go anywhere.
posted by Polychrome at 8:02 AM on January 13, 2011

Well, I'm still waiting for my pre-Christmas order of Sugru to show up. Last time I checked they said it's been sent, but the mail is slow due to weather and holidays.

I'm beginning to be concerned it's either stuck in customs or has been buried in the snowdrift below my mailbox for weeks now.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:54 AM on January 13, 2011

I'm in California, and I got a Christmas card on Monday (Jan. 10) that was posted in the UK on December 17. I also got two magazines that day that had been sent from the UK around 20 December.

I'm also waiting for a package from UK Amazon and some other unknown place (Christmas present from Him Indoors) in the UK, both of which were ordered the week before Christmas.

I don't think that my packages are lost -- yet -- but I just wanted to share my anecdata.
posted by vickyverky at 11:14 AM on January 13, 2011

If it's just held up in the mail, she will at least have proof of postage. If she didn't get that, it's on her and she owes you a refund.

I don't get why a purchase made on 23 November would be held up by snow that fell over a week later. All this rings a bell about the time I was scammed. Stalling with superficially plausible excuses, unclear answers to questions, no proof of postage, other customers disgruntled, and everybody I knew telling me I needed to wait at least three months for transatlantic mail. By the time I put my foot down all my options for dispute resolution were long past.
posted by tel3path at 2:47 AM on January 14, 2011

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